Adult Survey FAQs

The Adult Survey has now closed, however the following FAQs provide more information.

Who has been invited to participate in the Adult Survey?

  • Adults who were registered on the Victorian Electoral Roll as living within the town boundary of Morwell, or selected regions of Sale, at the time of the Hazelwood Mine Fire, were invited to participate in the Adult Survey. We do not have contact details for other adults who lived in Morwell or the selected regions of Sale, but who were not on the Victorian Electoral Roll.

Why does the Adult Survey focus on Morwell and Sale?

  • Morwell and Sale are the towns included in the questionnaire and identified health record linkage parts of the Adult Survey. For the Adult Survey and the associated health assessments it is important that we focus on Morwell as the town which received the highest exposure level as this will maximise our chance of identifying significant health outcomes. Air pollution exposure modelling has been used to identify Sale as a suitable comparison community with less exposure to the Hazelwood mine fire smoke. Comparisons between the health of Morwell and Sale residents will allow us to identify any differences in health outcomes that may be attributed to the smoke exposure. Detailed exposure modelling for the Latrobe Valley and beyond will enable us to estimate the health outcomes for other areas.
  • It is not possible, nor necessary, for the Hazelwood Health Study Adult Survey to interview every person who was in the Latrobe Valley during the mine fire. If as many invited people as possible participate in Morwell and Sale, then they will provide sufficient information about the pattern of health in highly exposed versus less exposed people. The findings can then be generalised to people who worked in Morwell during the fire, but did not live there, and to other communities in the Latrobe Valley. The inclusion of additional people in the Adult Survey will make the study larger, more complex, take longer and be more expensive, but will add little value to the findings.

Why was Sale selected as the comparison community?

  • Sale was selected as the comparison community because:
  • It had less exposure to the Hazelwood mine fire smoke but is comparable to Morwell in size, rural location, age of residents etc
  • We were keen to select another Gippsland town to understand the impacts of the Hazelwood mine fire across the broader Gippsland region
  • Collecting information from two Gippsland sites will also give us a much greater understanding of the health and health services use of the region. This will inform health service planning for Gippsland and for regional Australia more generally
  • It is our hope that the Sale community will be more willing to participate in the study, compared to another community further away in Victoria or even interstate, because Sale residents were aware of the mine fire event and interested in the outcomes.

Why are only some are as of Sale being targeted?

  • It is not necessary for us to speak with every Sale resident to get an understanding of the impacts of the smoke event.
  • We have selected the areas in Sale based on a number of factors including having a comparable age profile to Morwell.
  • By limiting the study to particular areas in Sale, we can focus recruitment efforts on those areas instead of trying to engage the entire town.
  • The inclusion of additional Sale residents in the Adult Survey will make the study larger, more complex, take longer and be more expensive, but will add little value to the findings.
  • To see the areas of Sale being targeted click here.

How did the study get my name and address details?

  • In accordance with section 34 of the Electoral Act 2002, the Victorian Electoral Commission has agreed to provide Monash University with an extract from the 2014 Victorian Election electoral roll including the names and addresses of people aged 18 years and over who resided in Morwell and Sale. An extract of the current Register of Electors has also been provided for the same electors including current address, whether the elector is still active on the roll and whether the elector is deceased. This information has been provided for the purpose of recruiting participants for the Adult Survey Stream of the Hazelwood Health Study which will investigate the health effects of the Hazelwood Mine Fire.

How is the privacy of Adult Survey participants protected?

  • The Hazelwood Health Study protects the privacy of participants in the Adult Survey in a number of ways:
  • All participants are allocated an ID number in place of personal information such as name and address.
  • Information we collect is entered into a de-identified database via the secure Hazelwood Health Study Adult Survey remote desktop.
  • Access to this remote desktop portal is only made available to authorised Study staff via a password-protected and secure login.
  • Data collected from participants is locked within a secure environment both physically (paper files) and electronically.
  • All staff who are involved conducting in the Hazelwood Health Study Adult Survey have been trained and understand the importance of confidentiality and privacy.
  • In addition, all Hazelwood Health Study staff have signed confidentiality agreements as part of their employment.
  • Staff and contracted service providers who have been authorised to access data provided by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) have signed a VEC confidentiality agreement, and would face severe penalties if they disclosed VEC data.
  • More information on how we ensure the privacy of participants is available here.

I have current concerns about my health - what do I do?

What is health record linkage and what sort of data is collected?

  • Health record linkage is a process to bring together recorded health information that relates to the same person. Records are routinely collected every time we make use of a health service such as an ambulance, hospital stay or visit to the emergency department.
  • By bringing all this information together we can build up a picture of a person’s health status and follow changes over time, without having to contact the person for repeated interviews. This is important for the Adult Survey which is interested in long term outcomes.
  • For some linkages we need your Medicare number to ensure that we accurately link to the correct records. However, Adult Survey participants who consent to health record linkage are under no obligation to provide their Medicare number.
  • Your personal details such as name, date of birth and sex will be searched in health databases. This means that if your details match a record in any of the searched databases (such as ambulance, hospitals, cancer and death) the record will be returned to Monash University. For example if you visited a hospital, details such as date of hospital visit, primary diagnosis, and length of stay will be returned to us. Please note that confidential client notes on conversations with doctors will not be provided to us.
  • All information collected will be treated with absolute confidentiality and used for health research only. All identified data will be held securely to ensure total security, confidentiality and anonymity. Nothing that would identify individual participants will be released publicly.

How will I hear about the outcomes?

  • A core aspect of community engagement will be our commitment to providing regular updates to the community as the study progresses. We speak regularly with community groups and are keen to speak at other community events. We will provide regular updates through the local media (newspaper, TV and radio), hold community briefings, as well as keep people updated through our website and social media. The first findings have already been released and can be found on the Study findings page.

What else is happening in the broader Hazelwood Health Study?

  • The Adult Survey is one of several research areas that is currently underway, with other studies targeting the impacts on infants, school children, older people and the broader community. In addition, de-identified health record linkage will collect information about health service use across the entire Latrobe Valley and beyond, allowing us to see if service use changed as a result of the smoke event. For more information about these activities see Research Areas or our main Frequently Asked Questions section.

Our Partners

Acknowledgement to Country

We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Elders and Traditional Owners of the land where our Study teams are based, particularly the Gunaikurnai peoples of Gippsland.